Thursday, November 3, 2011

The one month mark

So "The Kingdom of Childhood" has been out for a month now. I just logged in to Amazon's Author Central to see my sales figures, and they're looking ________________. I don't know what word goes there. I don't have any frame of reference for how many books one ought to sell in a month, especially when the book in question had a banner at BEA and the cover of Publishers Weekly and is in every airport bookstore in the United States. So I'm just going to go with "good," and save "spectacular" for when it hits a bestseller list.

Here is a short list of things I have learned in the past month. Up-and-coming writers, pay attention:

1. To do radio interviews, you must not have call-waiting. It's not enough to turn it off on a case-by-case basis, because that only works if YOU are calling THEM, and frequently they call you. So what you have to do is engage in a frantic online chat with Verizon customer service at 10 pm on a Sunday and have a very nice person in India turn it off for you while telling you what a very wonderful customer you are and how he wishes they were all as lovely and kind as you. It goes without saying that radio interviews have to be done over a landline. You didn't know that? Rookie.

2. There are things called "media monitoring companies" that send you email when your book has appeared on TV in some form and offer to sell you the clip for a hundred bucks. Usually you have no idea it appeared on TV at all, so this will be the first you've heard of it. The included writeup will be suitably vague, written in all-caps, and will include words like "GLORIFYING" and "PEDOPHILE," which will cause you to quick-draw your credit card until you remember to take a deep, cleansing breath. When your editor told you your book would be the most talked-about novel of the Fall, you never really gave great depth of thought to what that talk would entail, did you?

3. Once you start receiving fan mail, you suddenly start freaking out at being included in group text messages with people you don't know. To a lesser extent, this also goes for rattling off your home telephone number to the cashier at the grocery store. Is it really worth saving twenty cents on yogurt to risk getting phone calls at your home from people who don't much care for your protagonist? So far, yes. That's just paranoid, after all. But ask me again next week, after I've maybe received a few more of these emails from a media monitoring company.

4. Goodreads: it's not your buddy. Imagine if, when you were in high school, there had been a website on which people could post star ratings of their opinion of you, followed by their candid assessments of your looks, wit, intelligence, and general value as a human being. Somewhere on this profile there would also be a little ticker showing how many people want to hang out with you, versus, say, the prom queen (THE NIGHT CIRCUS) or the valedictorian (THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS). Well, welcome to Goodreads. The conclusion that I've come to is worthy of a John Hughes movie: it's not about who doesn't like me or how popular I am, it's about how great my true friends are. That and whether I earn out my advance, but now the analogy is sort of falling apart on me.

So! Tune in next month for more helpful hints and tips about managing your ego your career. And if you happen to be behind me in line at the pharmacy, please cover your ears while I'm reciting my phone number. Or at least don't read what's on the bag.

1 comment:

  1. Ya know, you can use a made up phone number for those grocery store cards. Like 999 999 9999.
    Great post, BTW.